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Topics - tmaurer

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General Homebrew Discussion / Pouring home brew at a beer event?
« on: December 15, 2010, 01:19:19 PM »
Are there laws forbidding pouring home brew at a beer tasting event?

I live in PA.  I was told it was illegal., and I'm just wondering about the logic on that.  Is it a public health issue?  After all, home brew clubs gather and have tastings.  Whats the difference?  Any thoughts on this?

All Grain Brewing / First lager
« on: December 14, 2010, 06:28:52 PM »
I want to brew my first lager, but I have some questions.

When do you guys normally pitch yeast?  Do you pitch while it is warm and let it slowly cool?  Or do you cool to fermentation temps before pitching?

I understand that lagers require big starters.  How many of you cold crash the starter and only add the yeast?  That seems like a huge amount of additional liquid to add to the fermenter to me.

I plan on brewing smaller lagers around 1.040 to 1.070 (pilseners and bocks as an example).  Is there a standard time and temp I should lager these?

I bottle since I'm not set up to keg yet.  Do I lager before I bottle or bottle then lager?  If I lager before I bottle, will there be enough yeast left in suspension to carbonate in the botles?

These are a few concerns for me.  I have one chest freezer to use as a fermenter AND for lagering.  So, I need to plan things a little more so I'm not tying up my freezer.

Equipment and Software / Johnson digital temp controller
« on: August 19, 2010, 03:08:59 PM »
My temp controller has an "OF5" setting.  What the heck is that for?  That little tidbit isn't included in the instruction sheet.  Any ideas?

Beer Recipes / Designing Christmas beers
« on: August 18, 2010, 08:29:05 PM »
I really want to start brewing for the holidays and seasons.  I've been wanting to do a Christmas beer for awhile.  I'm not sure what to do.  Add fruit?  Add spice?

I have a Belgian strong dark recipe as a base:

15  lbs  Pilsener
3.0 lbs  Munich
0.5 lbs  Wheat
1.0 lbs  Cane sugar
1.0 lbs  Aromatic
1.0 lbs  CaraMunich
1.0 lbs  Special B
0.5 lbs Melanoidin

2.42 oz Hallertau @ 60

As far as yeast goes, I would like something that adds a lot of spice and fruit.  I was thinking maybe WLP 500, but I have no idea.  What else can I do to this to make is more special.  I've seen recipes that add cherries.  What other sorts of things are "Christmas" like?

Yeast and Fermentation / Fermenting Belgians
« on: August 14, 2010, 01:40:26 AM »
I'm looking to start do a few Belgians.  Going through many recipes, many of them state that you should start fermenting at colder temps then ramp up the temps at some point during fermentation.  Specifically, I'm looking at a saison recipe that says to start at 67° and ramp up to 80° over the course of fermentation.

How would I handle upping the temp?  A degree or two a day?

Other recipes say to ramp up the temps during the last third of fermentation.  How do you know how many days of fermentation you're looking at.  Is a best guess?  Or does knowing come from experience?

Ingredients / My water report
« on: August 04, 2010, 03:51:44 PM »
When I ask my water department to give me a water report, this is what they give me:

I can't make sense of it.  It doesn't really tell me anything.  Or maybe it does, and I'm not reading it right?

Beer Recipes / IPA recipe help
« on: July 27, 2010, 02:33:51 AM »
I'm thinking about brewing this IPA recipe.  It will be a 6 gallon batch around 1.064 and 62 IBUs:

13 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt
12.0 oz Munich Malt
8.0 oz Crystal  40L
8.0 oz Victory
1.00 oz Galena (60 min)
1.00 oz Chinook (20 min)
0.50 oz Cascade (15 min)
0.50 oz Simcoe (15 min)
0.50 oz Amarillo (0 min)
0.50 oz Centennial (0 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe (Dry Hop 5 days)
2.00 oz Amarillo (Dry Hop 5 days)

Comments, questions, and concerns are greatly appreciated!

All Grain Brewing / Increasing efficiency
« on: July 25, 2010, 12:23:53 AM »
I know the subject of efficiency comes up a lot, but I have a few questions.  I enjoy 70% efficiency on most brews.  I would like to increase that some.  During the next few months, I plan on brewing 3 beers around the same gravity to work on my efficiency.

I here there are three things I can easily do to increase efficiency: crush my grains a little smaller, eliminate dead space in the mashtun, and mash out and/or sparge (I batch sparge) with hotter water.  Getting a finer crush is easy.  But what do they mean when they say eliminate dead space?  Are they referring to the space between the grain bed and the cooler lid?  Or are they talking more about reducing wort losses in your system (I loose about a quart to a quart1/2)?

Lastly, I've always been confused about sparge water temps.  Some people just say they sparge with a certain temperature of water.  So is it OK to use one single temperature sparge water for all brews?  Shouldn't I be worried about raising the grain bed to a certain temperature?  And using one standard sparge water temp may not work every time?

Beer Recipes / Balancing a recipe
« on: July 20, 2010, 06:31:35 PM »
I've been brewing other folks recipes up until now.  Naturally, I want to start making my own recipes.  I've been reading up on malts and hops getting a feel for what sorts of flavors/aromas I want.  My question is about balancing a recipe.  How do I formulate how much bittering hops I need to either have a bitter/balanced/sweet finish?  I know for certain that 40 IBUs in a beer made entirely of base malt would not have the same taste as 40 IBUs in a beer with added specialty grains.  So how do you know how much bitterness to add?

Equipment and Software / From the kettle to the fermenter
« on: July 15, 2010, 06:04:50 PM »
I'm using an immersion chiller, so I cool in the kettle than transfer to the fermenter.  My question is for those that have a similar setup like me.  How do you transfer from the kettle to the fermenter leaving the majority of trub behind in the kettle?

I either have to pick up and pour 5 gallons of beer into my fermenter.  Or I sometimes use a sanitized pitcher to scoop out smaller amounts and pour into the fermenter.  Well picking up a kettle with 5 gallons of beer in it just sucks.  The pitcher idea works, but it seems to kick up the trub on the bottom even when being careful and slow.

I know there is a better way.  Is drilling a hole in my kettle and installing a ball valve the answer?  How do you guys make the transfer?

Yeast and Fermentation / Refrigerator temp controllers
« on: July 12, 2010, 06:26:44 PM »
I have a Johnson digital temp controller for my refrigerator.  I plan on doing lagers soon, but I have a few questions.  Here is a question I asked on another forum.  I'd like all your opinions on it:
I bought a Johnson digital temperature controller. I think the differential adjustment is defaulted to +-3. My question is what do you have yours set to? I've read that the default setting will save your refrigerator from kicking on and off as much which will increase its life.

But when dealing with fermentation temperatures, wouldn't you want the differential set to one. I'm thinking the up and down temperature swings has to be hard on the yeast right? What are your thoughts?

I've heard from a few smart people that say it makes more sense to monitor the ambient air in the refrigeration while fermenting.  They say I should set the differential to +-5 and set the temperature to 45° F.  What are your thoughts on this?

Ingredients / Identifying unknown hops?
« on: April 07, 2010, 03:17:48 PM »
My father-in-law discovered a 2 hop vines growing out in his back yard of a new home he just purchased.  Is there any way to identify these?  I've never dealt with whole hops.  Can you get a rough idea from their aroma?  Or do different hop vines have distinguishing features like leaves or something?

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast troubles
« on: April 07, 2010, 01:35:53 PM »
I brewed a witbier recipe out of Zainasheff's Brewing Classic Styles.  I'm fermenting in a standard 6.5 gallon bucket.  I put 5.5 gallons in, and I usually put a blow off tube on the bucket because they're just not big enough.  I pitched a 1 liter starter of Wyeast 3944.  As the recipe states, I started fermentation at 68°.  During the last 3rd of fermentation, I took the blow off tube off the bucket, and I put an air lock on.  I ramped up the temp slowly to 72°.  Fermentation appeared to have dramatically slowed.

It now appears that fermentation has kicked back off immensely since kraeusen is coming up through my airlock.  Is this normal for fermentation to pick back up like this when raising the temperature?  Or is this a sign of something wrong?

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